Colorado Legend Rich Martinez Has Died

A legend has passed.

Colorado 1,600 state record holder Rich Martinez passed away this past Tuesday morning in Colorado Springs.

He was 57. 

Martinez is best known around Colorado high school track circles for his prowess around the track - and as the owner of the Colorado 1,600 state record of 4:10.98. The Widefield state champ set the record in 1981 - it's the second-oldest record in the CHSAA books.

Martinez's feats have become more widely talked about in recent years, as Colorado has seen quite a few athletes like Cole Sprout, Michael Mooney, and Cruz Culpepper come agonizingly close to officially breaking the mark. 

It has been reported that Martinez experienced "relief" after hearing of Sprout's unofficial 4:07.2 last spring - and that he was in contact with several athletes pursuing his record.

"He couldn't wait for someone to break it, bury it, in part because he was tired of his name coming up every spring when the Colorado State Track and Field Championships would roll around, but really because he just wanted to see someone deserving succeed," friend Kevin Beck wrote of Martinez.

While Sprout and Culpepper unofficially eclipsed the mark last spring, Martinez's record will turn 40 this spring, as it remains the official Colorado record. 

After high school Martinez went on to become an All-America middle-distance runner at the University of New Mexico. In 1988 he nearly qualified for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team, placing fifth in 3:39 in the 1500 at the Olympic Trials.

For nearly 40 years Colorado's best milers have chased Martinez's shadow around the track. Every year a Colorado miler came close to the mark, his name was brought up once more. He was Everest.

Colorado has lost a true legend. 

Our deepest condolences go out to Martinez's friends and family.